Defense of Marriage Act: Oral Arguments in First Circuit

By Tanya Roth, Esq. on April 05, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Is it constitutional to deny homosexual couples the right to federal marriage benefits? Was the adoption of the Defense of Marriage Act in violation of Congressional authority?

Wednesday morning, the First Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments relating to the Defense of Marriage Act. The cases, Gill v. Office of Personnel Management and Massachusetts v. Health and Human Services bring the constitutionality of DOMA to the forefront of legal debate.

Two years ago, the District Court held that Section 3 of DOMA was unconstitutional under the Fifth and Tenth Amendments, reports Huffington Post. These challenges to DOMA are being heard across the nation as they make their way up to the appeals courts.

In looking at the congressional intent behind the passage of DOMA, the District Court held that DOMA was passed due to moral bias against gay marriage. The District Court also found that marriage laws have traditionally been left to the states and that congressional definition of marriage was in excess of the federal legislative authority.

Interestingly, President Obama has stated that he will no longer defend DOMA against equal protection challenges. As such, the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the U.S. House of Representatives will be defending DOMA.

One of the most interesting arguments made at the hearing was the argument that opposite-sex marriages advanced governmental interests because they produced "unplanned offspring."

As the debate rages on before the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston, we'll be covering the arguments and the overall case. Will DOMA survive judicial review? Will the case proceed to the U.S. Supreme Court?

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